Monday, July 29, 2019

The Brief Spring of Global Science: How Climate Science is Affected by Nationalism and Propaganda


The start screen of the "Climadrom" site, kept by Aleksander Zhabskiy. The site is strongly oriented toward rejecting the current scientific interpretation of climate change, labeled as "climate alarmism," "hysteria," and the like. This view seems to be fashionable in Russia in all sectors of society and, nowadays, Russian science seems to have rejected the current understanding of climate change as seen in the West. Yet, we must keep trying to bridge the gap: if people don't speak to each other, the only way they have to communicate is to fight. In this sense, the site by Mr. Zhabskiy has some merit in seeking for a discussion at the international level. I did present my views that he correctly published.


There was a time, during the 19th century, when Darwin's ideas on natural selection were rejected by the whole French science. One reason was the influence of Baron George Cuvier who had interpreted the geological record in terms of mass extinctions periodically caused by planetary catastrophes (see this link to know more about this fascinating story). French scientists saw Cuvier's role in nationalistic terms and thought that it was outrageous that their great master was contradicted by those silly Britons.

The concept of "National Science" was rather common throughout the 19th century and the first half of the 20th. Earlier on, scientists were still communicating with each other in Latin, but that was abandoned with the 19th century and that led to science being more and more constrained by national borders and national cultures. There are many examples of how this evolution affected the scientific debate: one is how the work by Alfred Wegener on continental drift was widely rejected in the 1950s in part because of anti-German sentiments in the West (a link). I could cite examples of how the Fascist government in Italy tried to purify Italian Science from foreign influences in the 1930s. Then, of course, there was "Soviet Science," supposedly different from the decadent capitalist science practiced in the plutocracies collectively known as "The West." An example is how the Ukrainian biologist Trofim Denisovich Lysenko fought Western Genetics.

But all that seemed to be past and gone with the internationalization of science after that the American legions had imposed English on the rest of the world, just as the Roman legions had imposed Latin long before. As a young researcher, in the 1980s, I perfectly understood that science was international: everyone, anywhere in the world, could be a scientist by accepting two fundamental tenets: publish in English and speak in English. International science was egalitarian, global, and suspicious of national borders. The researchers of my age even tended to mock the older generation of scientists because of their limited command of English. The fall of the Soviet Union, in 1991, seemed to give the final push to the full internationalization of science: there would be no more "Soviet Science." Just as the world's economy was being globalized, the same was taking place for science.

That was just a brief spring: today, nationalism is returning everywhere with a vengeance and science is not immune to the trend. I can tell you how the capability of my younger colleagues to speak English seems to be going down every year a little more and one of the shocks of my life was when, a few years ago, one of the students engaged in a laboratory exercise complained to me that the instruction manual of the instrument he was using was in English.

The downfall of English is just a personal impression but it seems clear to me. Some people in Italy seem to find it totally incomprehensible that I keep a blog in English. Actually, I don't know another example of an Italian scientist who keeps a blog in English, except for my coworker Ilaria Perissi. (If you know of other examples, please let me know!)

How about Climate Science? As it is normal, it is an international field that encompasses contributions from all countries with a significant budget in scientific research. But it seems to me that in Italy climate science is especially neglected. Don't get me wrong: there are several excellent climate scientists in Italy, but the average effort in the field is not impressive. Some evidence of the problem is a recent petition denying the anthropogenic origin of global warming, said to have been signed by 90 leading Italian scientists. Actually, the  "leading scientists" are a ragtag band of elderly scientists, scientists with no competence on climate, and people who are not even scientists -- some of them belonging to all three categories at the same time. Nevertheless, that such petition exists is a symptom of deep problems. Much worse was when, in 2015, the president of the Italian Society of Physics (!!) refused to sign a statement on climate science in support of the ongoing Paris negotiations.

So, what's the problem in Italy? Perhaps the same the French had with their Baron Cuvier. In Italy, we have Antonino Zichichi, an elderly particle physicist who has left a strong imprint in Italian physics and who, today well in his 90s, is still active in criticizing climate science in ways that we can define at least questionable. But it is also a question of science being intertwined with politics: the Italian movement called "sovranism" is clearly suspicious of climate science as a foreign scam.

And let's go to Russia. Judging from what can be read in the scientific literature in English, Russia may be in the same conditions as Italy in terms of neglect of climate science, perhaps even worse. With the best of good will, I couldn't locate much in terms of major contributions to climate science by Russian scientists working in Russia, with the work by Gorshkov and Makarieva being the main exception with their concept of the "biotic pump". I asked my colleagues if they could name a serious Russian climate scientist working in Russia and they couldn't. Maybe they are publishing in Russian? One of the problems with Russia may be the same as in Italy: a dominant figure blocking progress in a whole field of science. In the case of Russia, it seems to have been Kyril Kondratyev (1920-2006). He was a valuable atmospheric scientist but his views on climate change seem to me obsolete by now but, unfortunately, still affecting Russian science.

I may be wrong if I say that Russia is neglecting climate science, but there is clearly a problem, there: a much larger one which has to do with politics. I must admit that, If I were a Russian citizen, I would find it hard to dismiss the idea that the whole story of anthropogenic global warming is just one more psyop coming from the West. The Western media are producing so much propaganda and so many lies that the temptation is to disbelieve anything that comes from a Western source. It is the destiny that befell the Moon landings, now widely disbelieved in the very country that was so proud of having sent men to the Moon not long ago. The same destiny may be affecting climate science: despite decades of efforts of thousands of excellent scientists, it tends to fall into the same category of government-sponsored propaganda. All this goes together with the locking up of science and scientists within national boundaries, something that may turn foreign scientists from colleagues into enemy agents and foreign science into political propaganda.

And now? Could we ever recover a unity in science allowing us to act together against climate change? Could we do that before it will be too late? For sure, at present, we are moving in the opposite direction. As usual, when people refuse to talk to each other, the only possible way to communicate is to fight. And, unfortunately, it may be where we are heading to.

I am grateful to Mr. Aleksander Zhabskiy for the useful conversations we had on the matters covered in this post.

60 comments:

  1. It's great! It's super great! Bravissimo, professore Bardi! That is an example how people MUST show their attitude to views of each other.

    I urge all scientists who have deal with climate to answer my questions, which are placed here: https://climadrom.ucoz.net/load/

    Alexander Zhabskiy, editor of the International Network Resource for EnvironmentaL Education ECO.KNOW (http://ecoznay.ru/) and its thematic supplement CLIMADROM (https://climadrom.ucoz.net/load/)

    St.Petersburg, Russia.

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    1. Thank you, Alexander. You did well in intervening in these comments and now maybe you could provide a few lines for the readers about who you are and why you are doing this work.

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    2. Thank you, Ugo. It's easy for me to say just about myself in a few words. Paraphrasing the Russian poet Vladimir Mayakovsky, I would say: "I am an old journalist, and I can be interesting to you (only) by this." Old Russian journalists, brought up in the USSR, are strictly committed to perfection. Therefore, I created the site named CLIMADROM for the free exchange of opinions of climatologists of different views. I personally relate to climate skeptics, like my colleague Mike Morrano in the USA, but this is a purely personal matter of mine. In spite of that, my site is open and accessible to all. Everyone can be in the calm assurance that his words and thoughts will never be distorted or ridiculed there. Welcome!

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    3. Sorry Alexander, but a journalist, it is NOT your job to indiscriminatly publish the scientists posts.

      The job of a journalist is to give context, which you dont.

      By the way, I think that Mike Morano is the worst criminal ever and probably the only person that I would consider a death sentence for.

      He has been the spin doctor behind the anti science campaign issued by the bush (senior) government. His success in lying to people about climate scince will have a gigantic death toll. I do blame Mike Morano for this more tnah anynbody else in this world. He has the blood of millions on his hands and he should be held accountable for his lies.

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    4. Source for Mike Morano as the workld chief climate liar:
      https://www.zeit.de/2012/48/Klimawandel-Marc-Morano-Lobby-Klimaskeptiker/komplettansicht

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    5. First of all, I apologize to the readers of the blog and my own post, as well as to the respected American journalist Marc Morano, that I made in a hurry a mistake in writing his name and surname. Correctly is Marc Morano.

      Then, objectivity and respect for someone else’s opinion are not probably really the hallmarks of a serious journalist, but my 52-year-old career taught me to be exactly of that kind of journalist. And relearn is already quite late in my 67.

      Friends, please listen to the old man: you have to be tolerant and generous, and time will check the correctness of ideas. So let's wait how our descendants will estimate us.

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    6. I am 67, too. There has to be a reason why we came to see the world in such different ways, and yet we live on the same planet.

      If we could find that reason, we could solve all problems in the world, we could stop wars, be kind with everyone, understand each other, and love each other, too! But what is the reason?

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    7. Dear Ugo, it is both easy and difficult to answer your question in this context.

      Why is it easy? It's obvious that your climate views stem from your scientific practice, while mine depend on the degree of trust in one or another climate scientist. If I hit a hammer on my finger by myself, hammering a nail, I would make jnly one conclusion, but if I listen to the stories of others about a similar incident, I will take the point of view of someone who was more convincing. That is, your views are primary, then as my are secondary. Only there is, please note, a trap: the primacy of information does not mean its deliberate authenticity.

      But it is difficult to answer the question because the factors determining our knowledge and the formation of our views are perhaps even more than the factors influencing the weather, and even more so - on climate change. Therefore, by the way, climatologists have so many differences of opinion. And for this reason, no climate model can be at all accurate. Model is a computer program, right? And what kind of datas the programmer puts into the program, determines the result at the output.

      But there is a common denominator in all of this: humanity and kindness. Someone can hate my colleague Mark Morano (and even me, if he likes), but it is better not to endure the death sentence to him and not to be eager to read him in the town square near the scaffold.

      When I was the editor of various newspapers, journalists often argued themselves hoarse, which of them was more talented. Screams shook the editorial corridor. Then I left the office and reminded the debaters that it would soon be evening, and half of the front page of tomorrow’s newspaper was still empty. In science, as in a newspaper, there is enough space for any number of geniuses - the main thing is that there be geniuses, not talkers.

      Therefore, not everything is so scary. As Dostoevsky once said, beauty will save the world.

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  2. I feel like Russia has a much bigger problem than simple denialism: their leaders must be tempted by the idea that climate change will damage the rest of the world and benefit Russia. I don't mean to imply something cultural by this, simply that their geography lends itself to this cynical optimism. Russians will also be harder to convince of the negative effects of waste and pollution, because their country is massive and was already severely polluted by the USSR.

    Still, despite this, Russia has remained in the Paris agreement while the US has pulled out. The US has something much closer to a death drive.

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  3. Grazie Ugo. Senti, do the likes of ENI have influence on the politics of funding similar to that of the ExxonMobiles in the US?

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  4. "Some people in Italy seem to find it totally incomprehensible that I keep a blog in English".

    But at least you have effetto cassandra, in your native language and which helps me with my attempts to learn Italian. More challenging than 'la penna di mia zia e sulla tavola nella sala da pranzo', which is the usual fare. (and I know the single 'e' should have an accent, but I don't know how to do them on this machine)

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  5. Reducing CO2 emissions is unacceptable from ideological point of view. That would mean that the countries like China and Russia slow down their development in order to help West to preserve it's dominance. That would be like helping your own enemies. Therefore for less developed countries reduction of CO2 emissions is absolutely unacceptable. West already consumed disproportional quantity of the world's resources.

    The situation described in this post reminds me of similar scientific nationalism in art history. (In general scientific nationalism is still very much alive, but mostly in humanities.) In 19th century French art historian Louis Courajod invented the notion of "International Gothic style" to obscure the importance of Italian early Renaissance artists whose avant-guardism was undeniable.

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  6. A scientist searches for truth and nationalism interferes with that. Perhaps there are fewer scientists than we think. Not everyone who calls themselves a scientist has the disposition to truly be one. Yet soon the true scientist will be revealed. The moral imperative of having to stand up for the truth of anthropomorphic climate change will show who is true and who is blue. A black swan weather event could make that truth undeniable.

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    1. As I have stated here many times, science studies show that there is no "unpolitical" science. Every scientist is influenced by his upbringing, his peers, the institution he works for, etc. .... In a way, science is the fundament on which politics bases itself.

      But nevertheless the scientific method seems to be a very handy tool for figuring out the truth in the end. So I kind of resent the notion that there are "true" scientists and "false" scientists.

      As an afterthought, I would say that there is corrupt science. Science that has been bought by special interests or "science" that is just there to con people. I would suggest to throw those responsible in prisons. Sadly, in climate science, its also politics that keeps the law from taking action.

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    2. Derrick Jensen has a great phrase to describe some things which are not the way they seem. A scientist who is more of a social butterfly than a real scientist could be called.

      A toxic mimic.

      Your resentment means you are one of the good guys.

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  7. Maybe there is no russion climate science because the russian state is indistinguishable from Gazprom and the fossile fuel industry is all that keeps this disfunctional kleptocracy running? Just a thought.

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    1. Climate science in Russia is the strongest and most developed in the world. It was Russian scientists who once laid its foundations. It is the Russian climate models that are the most accurate and close to the results of satellite observations, which are recognized throughout the world. That is why there are no blatant alarmists among our climate scientists, and those who support the AHW in words are forced to do so for financial reasons. But we in Russia do not boast about it, because, as Ugo correctly says, the concept of "national science" is a relic of the past. So everything I've said above is the contribution of Russian scientists to the global climate science, which, unfortunately, often replaces scientific findings with politicized slogans these days.

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    2. Sorry, but whoever considers himself climate scientist and is not alarmed is either corrupt or an utter idiot.

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    3. But why do you think so? It seems to me that this is a taste approach, far from intellectual.

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    4. Sorry, I wont disuss science with. I distrust you and your motives 100%. Arriviong at your point of view is only possible by ignoring science and intellectuality itself.

      I do think that you are quite similar to "historians" that are holocaust deniers. I do not think that talking to clearly deranged and imoral people is a good way to spend your time.

      Yes I do think that your standpoint is as bad as that of a neo nazi propagandist, as you are also trying to play down a global genocide by denying reality.

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    5. For anybody else but Alexander, these are my reasons. I am a phycisist and a programmer. I know the science, I know the scientists, I know the data, I understand what is at stake, I know how and why people like Mike Morano want to play down the issue and attack climate science and intellectuality.

      This is not a West-East discussion, as it is made up to be here, but a discussion about class and generational issues in todays capitalism.

      Trump and Putin are oligarchs and represent oligarchy. They hate climate science because it threatens their ability to make money. They employ Mike Morano or Alexander to attack science and intellectuality in the public so that they can go on exploiting the earth and destroying the climate for making money.

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    6. Alien, as I said I understand you. But, please, let's not turn this discussion into another shouting match, as it happens all the time. I can't see Alexander being paid by Putin, by the oligarchs, or by Exxon to do what he is doing (although I CAN see Marc Morano being paid by evil entities as those). It is just that human minds are different and work in different ways.

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    7. How do you argue intellectually with someone who clearly has lost his ability for rationality and reasoning. This is a question I do indeed ask myself a lot these days, as we drift towards far right extremism, anti-intellectuality and neo fascism everywhere.

      The tragic answer is you dont. It is pointless, as is your honest undertaking of trying to do so.

      As Bob Altemeyer says:
      "Compared to most people, studies have shown that authoritarian followers get their beliefs and opinions from the authorities in their lives, and hardly at all by making up their own minds. They memorize rather than reason."

      This is a sad thing, but I do find Bob Altemeyers science flawless.

      He goes on:
      "Dogmatism comes rather naturally to people who have copied other people’s beliefs rather than figure things out for themselves. When you don’t know why your beliefs are true, you can’t defend them very well when other people or events confront them. Once you’ve run out of whatever counter-arguments your authorities have loaded into you, you’re done. But being flabbergasted doesn’t mean you change your beliefs. You can keep on believing as much as before if you want. You can even pat yourself on the back for believing when it seems clear you are wrong. Some people do this, and you know who taught them to.

      That is dogmatism, and experiments show that authoritarian followers have two or three times the normal amount of it because they believe many things strongly, but don’t know why. When the evidence and arguments against their beliefs becomes irrefutable, they simply shut down. If patriotism is the last refuge of the scoundrel, as Samuel Johnson said, dogmatism is the last resort of overwhelmed followers. Thus they agree with the statement, “There are no discoveries of facts that could possibly make me change my mind about the things that matter most in life.” That says it all."

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    8. Alien Observer, not everyone is, or can be, scientifically literate to the degree necessary to interrogate the scientific literature and come to a truly independent decision on whether e.g. climate change, vaccination; evolution; or in my field, technical (un)viability of energy system based only on wind and solar power. So as a result, many, many people must adopt an opinion on topics which they have no technical expertise.

      The question really is, why is it that people do not trust (i.e. hold as authority figures, to use Altemeyer's terms) those in universities who spend their time accumulating knowledge and understanding. I think that the answer is threefold: 1) most academics have become somewhat corrupt, at least at second hand due to the pressure to publish rapidly, coupled with funding agendas which are set politically (e.g. to support local industry/jobs) leads to poor quality science 2) Scurrilous actors have deliberately denigrated the "experts" for personal gain (e.g. reduced environmental standards may be one of the big boons in the short term of BREXIT) which is facilitated by confusing science (e.g. first law of thermodynamics, which is impossible to disprove because it is always right) with social science (e.g. economics which is impossible to disprove because it is almost always wrong); 3) experts are too often too arrogant to recognize that they might be wrong.

      The bottom line is that I agree with Ugo - we need to accept that just because we are certain that we are right (and incidentally I am NOT a climate denier) does not mean that that certitude is obvious to everyone.

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    9. And this is the core of the question: in the end, all knowledge is the result of testimony, the Christians speak of the old and the new testament, which is the same concept. But testimony is worthless if you don't trust the witness reporting it. And there we are: bereft of anyone to trust. Correctly, you identified some of the problems with the current generation of scientists, greatly inferior to the task they tried to perform

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    10. The joke I see is that this uncertainty is the result of scientifically sophisticated mass manipulation by the likes of Mike Morano and his ilk. I dont think that people are too scientifically illiterate to understand science, they are just "unsure" because they have been lied to.

      The lie that has been told over and over again is the same tale that Alexander spins on his abomination of a blog. The tale that there is some kind of scientific uncertainty about anthropogenic climate change.

      So I will not kindly invite Alexander for an honest discussion but call him out as the blatant liar that he is. It is him and his like that are the problem. If we want to fight climate change we have to stop liars like Alexander first and foremost.

      There is a law in germany against holocaust denial. I think we should have a law against public climate change denial as well.

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    11. "all knowledge is the result of testimony"

      Dear Ugo Bardi, as much as I like you, you could not be more wrong. All knowledge is the result of power and power is the result of knowledge.

      Power and knowledge form a construct by which those who have the will for power legitimize their leadership. This is in short and simplified the theory of foucaults power-knowledge ( see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Power-knowledge )

      Foucaults concepts are the most widely accepted theories on power in social science.

      Science that is in conflict with power will feel the repercussions quite instantly (i.e. Michael Manns Hockey stick). Science that is in support of power is rewarded.

      In capitalism power equals money.

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    12. Alien, I am sorry that we disagree, but this is the fundamental point. In my opinion, power is power, it is not necessarily linked to knowledge (but I'll see to read the link you provide, that may change my mind).

      In any case, the fundamental, fundamental, fundamental point is something that the ancient had discovered and knew very well: knowledge is based on testimony. That's why the Christian scriptures are called the old and the new testament -- it is the same concept. Since God doesn't speak to ordinary people, we must rely on prophets to hear His words. It is not very different for science: it is not for ordinary people to perform experiments, they must rely on scientists to understand the world.

      Then, how do we tell a false prophet from a real one? And a false scientist from a real one? There hinges the survival of the whole human civilization -- even the human species.

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    13. This is a fascinating and wide subject for disussion, and in social sciences and philosophy there is no absolute truth, only the discourse. So lets leave it there. I would just say that trying to understand Michel Foucaults perspective on power is a very fascinating undertaking with a lot of "Ahhhh...!" moments.

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  8. I am filled with sadness and renewed unease reading this post, looking at the Climadrom site and questions and seeing Ugo's responses. I was not uneasy about the tenor of Ugo's responses in general - his final remark
    "And the new major war will really be the end of humanity! "
    resonated with me and suggested to me Ugo's capitulation - long held at bay I suspect.
    I capitulated some time ago.
    By my capitulation I mean that the personal effort expended towards the world at large for enlightenment and 'persuasion to change behaviour' no longer has a meaningful likelihood of any measureable positive effect. The larger tide of human consciousness is ebbing and the timescale of a subsequent rise in consciousness is beyond the envelope of all of the major physical repercussions of climate change, resource reconfiguring and deteriorating social psyche. (They are all reaching a crescendo quite soon)

    Ivan Lukic says "Reducing CO2 emissions is unacceptable from ideological point of view.."

    Alexander (climate skeptic journalist)says "my site is open and accessible to all. Everyone can be in the calm assurance that his words and thoughts will never be distorted or ridiculed there"

    .. meanwhile people who know how to measure accurately and how to send Cassini to Saturn are telling us unequivocally that the extraordinary heat is building. The measurements are not a matter of ideology or welcome or disposition of any type and no national boundaries offer any shelter..when the starvation/ weakness /pestilence / commences the many types of theft which will proliferate at a scale never seen before, can only last for a little time.(because we have already eaten far into our future)

    I am a climate alarmist revisiting hysteria. My capitulation is accompanied by better internal adjustment overall. I may be being unfair to Ugo, he is a terribly stout chap I think and may stoically continue wihout capitulation. Certainly I think Ugo is one of the very wisest minds I have encountered.

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    1. Thanks for these kind words, crybaby. I am not so sure of what you mean for "capitulation," but surely things have changed a lot from the start of this whole story, that fated day on 9/11/2001. For several years afterward, we still believed that data and facts could speak by themselves, that they could have an effect. We didn't realize what kind of monster was arising. It is a huge, ugly, formless thing that devours everything: it turned reality first into a game of mirrors where everyone of us could see whatever they wanted to see. And now we discover in horror that there is nothing more that reflects into those mirrors. We are turned into undead creatures: we look into the mirror and we see nothing, not even our own reflection. And we don't even know whose fault it is, maybe everyone's

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  9. Thank you Ugo, your writings here never fail to stimulate thought and new reflections on the present and future. Indeed global science (as opposed to mathematics) seems to be an almost accidental side-effect of neoliberal capitalist globalization. Perhaps some Russians do see the issue of anthropogenic global warming as a psy-op, but they are certainly not alone. As agent provocateurs are to protest movements, so are conspiracy fairy tales to truth-seeking, so that we have believers in HAARP as weather control, chemtrails as population control, and faked-moon landings as false narratives of US technical prowess (as we are recently reminded by Dmitry Orlov). Being neither a climate scientist nor Russian, I can only speculate, but still I should not fail to remember the "dominant figure" of Mikhail Budyko, or the more recent work of Igor Semiletov, Natalia Shakhova and their peers in defending the minority view on the significance of arctic methane release as a positive feedback in global warming.

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  10. I have just posted a paper of professor Oleg Pokrovsky written 5 years ago (https://climadrom.ucoz.net/publ/scentific_papers/phenomenon_penetration_asian_monsoon_in_northern_asia/3-1-0-88). While sending it to me, the professor wrote me the following:

    "These days extreme floods occur in the Russian Far East and Siberia. 5 years ago I published a paper on the analysis of the previous 2013 floods, where I formulated a simple long-term forecast algorithm for monsoon rains arriving in the area from the Indian Ocean.

    I published this information in two Moscow scientific journals, and thus caused a "violent gun fire" on myself from the Hydrometeorological Center of Russia. In his review, his employees went down to the arena swearing, saying that I don’t understand anything, while they have a team of thousands of employees, and therefore they don’t want to talk to me about science. However, they did not give any specific comments to my paper! The former head of Rosgidromet, Alexander Frolov, who very obstinately and long objected to my dismissal (I worked as the chief researcher at the Main Geophysical Observatory of Russia located in St. Petersburg), this time could not resist the alarmists' pressing and allowed the director of this observatory to dismiss me, which the director passionately wanted for many years. To give the appearance of the legality of my dismissal, the observatory management was forced to declare the reduction of the observatory staffs and dismiss 6 more innocent employees, besides me. The head of the department where I worked was also removed from his post and transferred to ordinary researchers, because he objected to my dismissal."

    You might ask why the director of the Main Geophysical Observatory wanted so much the dismissal of Professor Pokrovsky. The answer is very simple: Pokrovsky remained faithful to his scientific views as one of the best followers of Academician Kondratiev, while the director of the observatory once "capitulated", as a person wrote here, because he was tempted by the fatty Western grants.

    Similarly, by threats or money, silenced those who did not want to replicate here the tales of "anthropogenic global warming," while remaining loyality to science.

    Fortunately, some improvements in Russia could be seen these days. More and more scientists dare to openly protest against the new edition of Lysenkoism in the form of climate alarmism. And recently I received insider information from the tops of the Russian Academy of Sciences (https://climadrom.ucoz.net/news/sensacija_ran_dast_vyskazatsja_vsem_sensation_ras_will_let_everyone_speak/2019-07-16-130), where I have many like-minded people (or rather, where eminent scientists, whose like-minded person I am, work). In the fall there is scheduled to begin a broad discussion of climate problems, where both alarmists and skeptics will have equal opportunities to speak and arguing. I will try to do everything so that this debate will be given an international character. Russia should assume the role of the leader of progress again and set the example of a free and unbiased reviewing of climate science. As some our scientists have told me, it would be a worthy monument to the victims of Lysenkoism at the end of the 1940s.

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  11. I am sorry, I have no tolerance left for climate change deniers. Giving Alexander a plattform here is like inviting a holocaust denier as speaker at an antifa event.

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    1. I understand you, Alien, but being tolerant or intolerant won't change the fact that there is a deep disbelief in climate change that goes through the very fabric of society. In part, it is surely the result of propaganda, but I think it is the result of the sheer horror of the consequences of the concept. Think about that for a moment, do you realize what it means? And it is human to try to escape by indifference or denial. At least, Alexander tries to discuss his views openly. He doesn't use the main tool of propaganda: obfuscation.

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    2. I do not need any platform, as well as this one. I painstakingly create my own in order to an approach like yours was impossible. And I invite everyone who not only spurts poisonous saliva, but also has more productive thoughts in the depths of his gray matter than the statement that "everything has already been decided - it remains only to bring it to life." It is like the death penalty: you can never be sure that new circumstances will not be revealed after the execution, certifying the innocence of the executed.

      As far as I understand, you are not a climate scientist. So do I. Therefore, our views are a product of trust to different scientists. But why is your trust more legitimate than mine?

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    3. @iskander:
      I have 3 questions for you.

      This argument: "we both have to believe other people, namely scientists, as we ourselves are no scientists" is actually a very deep one, because it touches the question, how knowledge in societies can be generated and communicated at all. Which counsellor do I believe in?

      Even scientists themselves have the same problem, as they cannot perform each and every measurement, each and every calculation by themselves - so they have to believe in other peoples informations on a daily basis.
      I am a clear supporter of the climate change paradigma, because it fits in well into the rest of the information I have about how the world is working (I am a physicist I admit). There is just no contradiction perceivable for me.

      The general concept is actually not so difficult to grasp: the increased absorption of heat radiation at one temperature is leading to a higher temperature, where the power of the heat radiation will again be equal to the power of the absorbed solar light. Then there is the positive water vapour feedback approximately doubling the original effect, which is also quite simple. All the other feedbacks and effects are either smaller or slower.

      So my first question is: under which exact circumstances would you start saying: "Wow, I think there is some truth in it." ?

      My second question is: Would you bother to dig into the details yourself, instead of just hiding behind the figure of some scientist you believe in? This is no rhetorical question, this is a real question.

      Mistrust, as in the case of climate change denial, must have at least one of two assumptions concerning the respective scientists, i.e. the 99 % of climate scientists:
      a) incompetence
      b) wilful misinformation.
      Or a combination of both.

      My third question is: Can you name your assumption about the 99% of scientists, who support the climate change paradigma: a) or b)?

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  12. Jeff C-C in the USJuly 30, 2019 at 10:36 AM

    Ugo, I am new to your blog, linked here by Charles Hugh Smith of the blog "Of Two Minds." I am glad he linked to you! I look forward to reading your postings and perhaps being a part of your community.

    I have several comments on this posting. First, I work for a U.S. subsidiary of Enel, the Italian electric company. Enel is a global leader in renewable energy and working to forestall climate change. I am very surprised to hear that this is not an important issue in Italy. This context increases my (already high) respect for the company.

    Second, it is very, very understandable why Russians would distrust climate change science. The West has been at odds with Russia since . . . they would probably say since the country was founded. When the Soviet Union collapsed, did that change? Not at all. The economic and military pressure has been relentless.

    One of the critical assets of Russia is its fossil fuel reserves. A Western effort to keep them locked up fits part and parcel with all of the other military and economic pressure that we have foisted upon them. Unless the science were 1000% irrefutable, they will refute it as yet another form of economic warfare against them.

    Finally, you and I are the same age. The predictions of climate change (and food and water shortages) from the Worldwatch Institute, World Resources Institute, Natural Resources Defense Council, Union of Concerned Scientists, and others, from the 1990s have largely not come to pass. I would like to see deeper analysis as to why.
    - To what extent do sunspots affect temperatures on earth? (I believe that the folks claiming "it's just sun spots" is about to change from climate change skeptics to climate change advocates.)
    - What are the thermal storage characteristics of the seas and oceans? Is it on a scale of months? Years? Decades? Half-centuries? May the temperatures we see actually reflect insolation from a past period of time? Is apparent climate change just a reflection of this?

    I have spent my life working in clean energy to 1) have energy sources for future generations and 2) have a stable climate to live in. We are making great progress in the renewable aspects of it. I am wondering if we have the "stable climate" part of it well enough understood.

    Finally, to tie it all together, I think that by far, we face a much greater risk of the climate change advocates in the US getting into power and provoking Russia until they are forced to respond. When they do, it will be with tremendous force. In other words, climate change is no longer the biggest threat facing the world in my opinion; it is the threat of nuclear war, initiated by Russia after provocation from the US.

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    1. I bag your pardon, your post is not addressed to me, but I still have read it with pleasure. And I noted one point that is characteristic of many people, whose idol is the former waitress Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (while I certainly do not claim that she is also your idol, God forbid!). You are claiming that some people (Russians are mentioned in this case) do not trust climate science. I don’t dare to speak about all people, but Russians just trust climate science VERY MUCH. And climate science (serious, not politicized and considering bachelor of arts Al Gore as its guru) says: the so-called anthropogenic global warming or, if you will, anthropomorphic climate change is unscrupulous fiction, or bona fide error, but pseudoscience anyway. The most reputable scientists in Russia, in the USA, in the Scandinavian countries consider this way (it was they who helped me, a man far from climate science, to form my system of views on this subject). Approximately like that says also the legendary James Lovelock, who has celebrated his 100th anniversary this week and who does not hesitate to change his views under the pressure of facts (alas, unlike him many climatologists change their views under the pressure of poorly informed but very loud public opinion, or, what is much worse, because of vested interests).

      What is characteristic, even many scientists, and not just people far from science, like you or me, are convinced that only their views are true science. Of course, identifying yourself with all science looks funny, but it always has been. Fortunately, there are always people who understand that science is not a mirror for an individual scientist, but a magical magnifying glass for understanding a multi-faceted world that is unknowable in principle.

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    2. Hello, Jeff. First of all, thanks for your interest. Then, let me see if I can answer your questions

      About ENEL, in an earlier comment I mentioned the Italian ENI company. These creatures are always difficult to assess in a reasonable way. I think you are right in saying that ENEL is doing well in terms of renewable energy, unlike ENI that got sucked in the morass of the Kazazhstan oil. Whether ENEL will continue doing good work, it is anybody's guess.

      About fossil fuels in Russia, of course it is a very important, even fundamental, issue. I thought it was better not to get into that in the post, it would have become too long. But, clearly, Russians tend to see the Climate Change story as a trick to force them to stop producing oil and gas. I don't think there is such a plan, especially on the part of the US which, right now, is producing as much as Russia, so if AGW were a weapon, it would be a sword with another blade in place of the handle! It is a long story, let me just say that in addition of not understanding climate change, the Russian "establishment" doesn't understand depletion, either. The combination of climate change and depletion could truly wipe out Russia from the map of inhabited countries, but, as I said, it is a long story.

      About your questions related to the sun, the oceans, etc., it is, again, a long story. I am preparing a post that may appear next week on the solar forcing compared to the CO2 forcing. The most recent results are truly impressive: our understanding of climate change is correct and the consequences are .... ouch....





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    3. Ah, Jeff, I was forgetting another point you made. And, again, you are correct: the only thing that you and me can do as individuals to reduce the damage that's coming is to promote renewable energy to the maximum possible extent. And, yes, we can argue as much as we like in blogs, but that won't change a thing!

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    4. Jeff C-C in the USJuly 31, 2019 at 3:09 PM

      Ugo, Thanks for your replies. I am very much looking forward to your post on CO2 forcing and solar forcing.

      I laughed when I read your comment about the US using AGW as a weapon against Russia: "A sword with a another blade in the place of the handle." Unfortunately, you are exactly right.

      That's interesting and unfortunate that the Russian "establishment" doesn't accept/understand depletion. It seems to me that they are the cooler head prevailing in the world right now. I wouldn't look forward to that getting turned upside down.

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  13. Hello Professor Bardi -

    seems to me Shakova's work (Russian) over long duration regarding a potential methane 'burp' from the east Siberian shelf is part of a rather long standing and somewhat well funded climate change research group doing real field data collection vs the many climate modelers kind of hogging the scene these days.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kx1Jxk6kjbQ

    I believe her group has long been calling for a serious look at how warming arctic waters and permafrost melting due to ACD will cause this burp that will have a banana peel effect on how abrupt a major climate change shift will occur. I believe her team is part of a larger group of a larger group of Russian scientists seriously working on these issues.

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    1. You are right, I could have mentioned Shakova's work, but I tried to limit my survey to Russian scientists working in Russia. She is in Alaska, there are other cases of Russian climatologists having moved to the West.

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    2. ah yes, this is true, thanks for making the point.

      at least that evolving, and rather eclectic group, of truth seekers is not composed so much of raving geopolitical's, nationalist's, or neo-liberal economists, but a 'please, just the facts, mam' (old saying from a US TV detective show) kind of crew of dedicated human scientists still toiling away in rather thankless endeavors.

      May they continue their work to tease out the secrets of nature in the behalf of a rather strange set of inhabitants on the rest of the globe as our 'ship' goes down.

      as goes the arctic, so go we all...

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    3. Because God chose the foolish things in the world to confound the wise and the little things in the world to confuse the strong.

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  14. If I understood it correctly, Gorshkov and Makarieva biotic pump theory better suits climate change sceptics than alarmists. The theory claims that if we have enough trees than capacity of biotic pump to transfer heat to higher layers takes care that the atmosphere doesn't overheat in spite of higher concentrations of CO2. (I think that ratio mentioned was 3W/m2 and 200W/m2). If we cut too many trees than we have not only climate change problem but fresh water problem too. Please correct me if I am wrong, if my understanding of the theory is inadequate, after all I am art historian, not climatologist.

    On the other side, the side of alarmists, if Guy McPherson is right, than it's already tool late to do anything, and in fact if we stop using fossils, than things can only become worse because there will be no more aerosols that help cooling by reflecting some sun radiation.

    We, ordinary humans, are flooded with conflicting theories and if there is no consensus among scientists, than you can imagine how confused we are. The way I see it: there is no such thing as scientific knowledge, there is only plethora of opinions.

    Until the real knowledge appears, I offer you a telling fact: Nicola di Bari "Il cuore e uno Zingaro", 5,1 million youtube views. You understand that neither climate change sceptics, nor alarmists, can ever hope to achieve this.

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    1. The biotic pump seems to me not in contradiction with the current understanding of GW. It may be seen as implying that the effect of CO2 has been somewhat overestimated, whereas deforestation has been playing a considerable role. It is not the biotic pump in itself that cools the earth, but the effect of evapotranspiration and recondensation at high altitudes. It may be -- it is a different interpretation of GW, but it is still AGW. So, we should now tell people not only to stop emitting CO2, but also to stop deforesting the Earth. Hard to say what's more difficult.

      Note, by the way, that the brainless people at the top of the EU are all set to promote bioenergy (that is, wood). It would be funny if it weren't tragical

      And, yes, il cuore è uno Zingaro e va!

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  15. Re: Natalie Shakova, I see that subtlety can be lost here as elsewhere, and so the recent headlines scream, "Alaska’s governor is trying to destroy its universities!" and more to the point, "Alaska Governor’s Budget Cuts are Disaster for U.S. Climate Research". This bodes ill for Natalie Shakova's future work, who not only is an excellent research scientist but also a science communicator rising star and role model.

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  16. As to why people don't trust the scientists. Kevin Anderson und John Michael Greer both made the point that if even most (climate) scientists hardly find it necessary to stop flying, how can you convince others there is a climate emergency?
    I am quite sure that Jesus his message about the poor and the weak wouldn't have resonated so much if he would have lived a life of luxury. The people who stopped flying because of climate change are such a small minority. So basically we have two kinds of people. People who deny there is a problem and people who say there is one but hardly do anything significant about it themselves. That is why hardly anything has happened the last 15 years.

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    1. Unsurprisingly I absolutely don't.

      In the theory of science, the knowledge and the scientists are not an entitiy but disjunct. Science only becomes science because of the scientific method, and not because of the moral integrity of the scientist.

      How science is perceived in the public eye is mostly determined by who dominates the discourse (wich is essentially the definition of ideology and therefore again power).

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    2. One last comment about why science has not been able to influence the public opinion on climate change (enough).

      I would just want to say that there is science about these subjects too. Natural scientists have a pretty unhealthy prejudice about the humanities, but socieal scientists have not been idle and have come up with some of the greatest scientific works ever written.

      The humanities are not unscientific, they have a different approach that is as valid as the scientific method. Just a bit of googling brought me there: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1002/wcc.2

      Maybe instead of guessing we would do well (me included) to do some reading.

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    3. I looked at the link you posted. My comment is on the cognitive and psychological processes that underlie public opinions:
      I am not a scientist, don't know any ‘truth’ besides my own experiences and steer through life to the best of my ability with limited knowledge. Living on this planet is a hazardous undertaking and climate change is one of these hazards. To me the CO2 hypothesis seemed plausible, the scientists proclaiming it seemed honest and I believed it was true. However, all of a sudden there was Extinction Rebellion and my alarm bells went off. We all have some experience with previous hoaxes by our governments, and since I want to live to the best of ‘my’ understanding I checked some of the latest news on climate change more thoroughly. If you follow the links you can follow the cognitive process of an ordinary citizen. It may help you understand why an ordinary citizen like me believes the best choice to make in this era is to step out of the matrix of Oceania and not believe anything governments and their lackeys, (politicians, CEO’s, scientists, corporate lobbyists, journalists, movie-stars etc.) tell you is true. When you stop paying attention to the fear mongering about possible futures over which you have no control, your day to day living is more peaceful and enjoyable.
      https://arctic-news.blogspot.com/2019/07/most-important-message-ever.html
      http://www.helsinkitimes.fi/finland/finland-news/domestic/16562-finnish-scientists-effect-of-human-activity-on-climate-change-insignificant.html
      Delingpod29: Dr. Rex Fleming: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gz9v2vKSyN8
      Rare Climate Debate - Dr. Judith Curry - Dr. Michael Mann https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jDLucr1-SuI
      http://ritesharya.blogspot.com/2011/03/climate-change-c-cycle.html
      https://drtimball.ca/2019/an-end-and-a-new-direction/
      https://pagesix.com/2019/07/30/a-listers-flock-to-google-summit-in-private-jets-mega-yachts-to-talk-climate-change/?_ga=2.74028817.263768670.1564409595-1619352479.1515542892
      http://www.wrongkindofgreen.org/2019/02/13/the-manufacturing-of-greta-thunberg-for-consent-the-new-green-deal-is-the-trojan-horse-for-the-financialization-of-nature/
      https://www.anti-spiegel.ru/2019/putin-im-o-ton-ueber-klimawandel-und-globale-probleme-der-zukunft/
      https://www.anti-spiegel.ru/2019/propaganda-wie-der-spiegel-das-thema-klimawandel-in-die-anti-russische-kampagne-einbindet/

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    4. And I'd say that you are perfectly right given the way most of us see the world nowadays. Evil walks the Earth and truth has been destroyed by its minions. They are followers of the Master of Lies, they live by lies and they will die by lies. And their Master will welcome them to Hell, where they deserve to go.

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    5. Dear Helena, a good way to discern truth from lies would be to check your sources. It is wrong to trust any source. Science IS questioning everything! The information I distrust least is what I would base decisions on.

      Be familiar with the theory of the scientific method, especially the concept of falsification

      In case of climate the theory behind the scientific approach is not as clear as in other fields. Only if several independent teams of scientists come to similar conclusions (As in the IPCC) the presented models are reliable. The least distrustfull climate model is that which best predicts real climate change.

      Anybody offering any opinion on climate change without providing a better model is trying to mislead you.

      There is no model other than anthropogenic climate change that even comes close to describing the current and past climate development. Only as good a model could inspire a discussion in science. As long as this is so THERE IS NO DISCUSSION ABOUT THE VALIDITY OF ANTHROPOGENIG CLIMATE CHANGE!

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  17. Since Dr. Bardi wants to discuss openly ‘the truth’ of science and climate change:
    Science has proven that it is 'God’s own country' that is killing the planet, with CO2 and otherwise.

    https://watson.brown.edu/research/2019/pentagon-fuel-use-climate-change-and-costs-war
    The United States’ military comprises of more than two million people, 11 nuclear aircraft carriers, a $700 billion budget in 2019, and the most advanced military aircraft in the world. According to Neta C. Crawford, co-director of the Costs of War Project, “all this capacity for and use of military force requires a great deal of energy, most of it in the form of fossil fuel.” As a result, the U.S. Department of Defense is the world’s largest institutional user of petroleum, and therefore the single largest producer of greenhouse gases in the world.

    https://medium.com/insurge-intelligence/the-global-pandemic-of-anti-muslim-genocidal-violence-c9e735d4575e

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Who

Ugo Bardi is a member of the Club of Rome and the author of "Extracted: how the quest for mineral resources is plundering the Planet" (Chelsea Green 2014). His most recent book is "The Seneca Effect" (Springer 2017)